The aim of this review is to compare and contrast the three known releases of my absolute favorite Dark Zoid: Dead Border. From the box and stickers to the sprues and instruction sheets, my goal is to document the differences in each release. For this review I am using some printed labels photographed along with the pieces for ease in differentiating.
I was able to obtain a mint in box version of each Dead Border release. The OJR version came with the original factory plastic still intact, and was found here in the US in Texas. The Pre-Release was won on eBay and shipped from China. The TDP version was obtained in Singapore. Below are the box fronts:
As seen above the major difference on the box front are on the TDP produced Dead Border. Along with the sticker that designates the unit as a limited TDP release, the TOMY logo in the lower right hand corner is blue on the TDP box. I believe this was done to enable one to tell the difference if the TDP sticker was removed from the front of the box. The TDP version also does not feature the fold in tabs on each side of the box, both OJR and Pre-Release do.
Blue TOMY logo = TDP version.
The TDP release also differs in the battery requirement description, and excludes the characters found on the lower left hand side of the box. It appears as if the same box art was used on all three pieces with the completed Dead Border displayed on the cover being the exact same unit with identical sticker placement .
As pictured above, the top of all the boxes are identical. The TDP version does vary on the box bottom. The box art was removed and an information panel took it's place.
On the back of the box, the same art was used. Again the TDP version varies from the previous two. I have poured over both the OJR and Pre-Release with a fine tooth comb and cannot find at differences whatsoever. The font, information, and style are all identical. Troublesome for the Dead Border fan that wishes to obtain all three versions. My hopes were to identify at least one minor difference, my attempts were futile.
There was no indication on battery difference, so at this point I am thinking that I may not have a Pre-Release version. I moved onto checking over the instruction manuals. The OJR and Pre-Release version appear to be identical. There are subtle differences in the shade of the ink but not enough to account for a deliberate difference. The TDP manual features a variety of differences including a TOMY logo on the front, but lacking the TOMY logo on the back.
Moving onto the packaging there are a couple of differences to note. The OJR version has the smoke gray translucent parts in a separate thin plastic bag. This packaging is absent in the Pre-Release version. The TDP version features a more "traditional" form of packaging with the sprues sets separated in two different plastic bags. The motor on the TDP version also comes in it's own cardboard housing. Another interesting note is that in the OJR release the smoky gray translucent sprue has it's own lightweight bag.
Moving onto the actual pieces, lets take a look at some of the differences.
The copyrights on the OJR and TDP sprues both read the same: © 1988 TOMY JAPAN. The TDP sprue reads: © 1983-2002 TOMY on the front, the reverse reads: 7H222PO8 MADE IN THAILAND. The color on the OJR and TDP is very similar. The TDP version, however, is very different and has more of a blue tint to the gray. The texture of the plastic also varies with the OJR and Pre-Release feeling and looking a little thicker and not as translucent. Another interesting note was the massive presence of air bubbles in these gray sprues. They seem to be more concentrated in the OJR version, followed by the Pre-Release, and on the TDP version they are minimal in comparison. Pictured below is the OJR sprue and the Pre-Release sprue.
I believe the absence of air bubbles on the TDP sprue could be a result of the different plastic used for this piece, as it both feels different and is a different shade as previously described.
Taking a look at the pilots.
As pictured above there is a difference between pilots. The OJR and TDP are very similar. The Pre-Release version is more of a pewter color as opposed to the dark chrome. This seems to be more significant difference, and not just a batch irregularity issue.
At first glance the OJR and Pre-Release sticker sheets look the same. Further inspection reveals a large difference in the amount of ink used in each sticker. The Pre-Release has very thick lines as compared to the OJR version. This is most apparent in the winged skull sticker. The Pre-Release version Skull Wing lines are so thick they almost run together, the tongue is almost all black with just a hint of green. See below:
The TDP sticker sheet has the same sticker, but the layout is different. On the TDP sticker sheet it looks like the sticker graphics were "cleaned up" a little. Note that the lower jaw's teeth lines are almost non-existent in the TDP version.
Copyright information remains the same on the OJR and Pre-Release, but does differ on the TDP version.
Hoping to find something more significant I moved onto the hose units. Each release has different colored hoses, see below.
The next thing I noticed was the thickness of each hose, pictured below and elaborated on later.
There are several differences on each sprue of hoses. There are a total of 9 hoses on the OJR release. The hoses are finished in a very dull gray, and the holes in the hose: are much more prominent; going deeper into the hose, and each hole is positioned differently. The middle of the OJR hose sprue has copyright information that reads: © TOMY JAPAN.
The Pre-Release version also has a total of 9 hoses, but the hoses all have a smaller diameter than the OJR hoses. These hoses are finished in a distinctly lighter gray (almost silver) as compared to the OJR hoses. The Pre-Release also has a middle tag that displays copyright information it reads: © 1988 TOMY. Note that the word "Japan" was omitted on this set of Pre-Release hoses. Finally a concrete difference.
Last, the TDP version has a total of 7 hoses. These hoses are finished in a slightly lighter gray /silver when compared to the Pre Release hoses. They are all also larger in diameter when compared to the Pre-Release version. The TDP hose sprue has the following copyright information: 9A611P01 Made in Thailand.
I am ecstatic to find a significant difference in hose sprue copyright information distinguishing each set.
Next up for consideration are the caps included with each set. All sets come with 24 black caps. The notches in all cap sets are identical. Some are deeper, but this can be accounted for in various batch consistencies.
The OJR set of caps come on two separate rubber sprues. Both the Pre-Release and TDP cap sets come on a single sprue. This is also an interesting difference, and I believe does reaffirm that the Pre-Release came at a later date as there is a clear difference in cap sprue configuration. I decided to delve into the motors, as they may offer more insight.
The exterior of the motors are all identical, save for the copyright information. The TDP version appears to be sharper in it's angles and detail suggesting that the mold was re-created or re-tooled. There is a theory that the TDP mold was re-created by Hasbro in anticipation of releasing the Fuzors version of Dead Border (My own personal holy grail): Battle Rex. I look forward to a step by step comparison of the pieces to see if there is any further detail improvements. The OJR and Pre-Release motors both read: TOMY ® ©1988 JAPAN, the TDP reads: © 1983-2002 TOMY MADE IN THAILAND. Both OJR and Pre-Release also have a triangular pointing down and the word "OPEN", these versions both have a clip that shuts the battery compartment. The TDP release has an arrow as opposed to just a triangle and the word "OPEN" on the cover. The TDP motor has an additional number imprinted on the top of the cover, mine reads "KO5". The TDP battery cover screws shut and does not clip.
Moving onto the inside of the units. The OJR and Pre-Release both feature a stamp on the inside of the covers. The TDP version does not have this inner marking, and my theory is that this was moved to the outside of the motor for easier access. I do not know exactly what these numbers are, but my guess would be batch quality control numbers.
The OJR motor is stamped "D3" and the Pre-Release is tamped "A8".
All of the units take 1 "AA" size battery. I did not observe any modifications in the battery compartment.
I decided to open up each unit to compare the insides. The OJR and Pre-Release both make use of a plastic plate positioned by the switch to make the connection to power the unit. The TDP version has what appears to be an actual separate switch that is activated by the same external switch. All gears and placement remain the same with the only visible difference being the color of the actual motor. The OJR version motor has a white base, the Pre-Release has a blue base, and the TDP version reverts back to the white base. The picture below shows both the color difference and switch plates.
The next step was to compare all the parts of each release. I thought this would be best accomplished by simultaneously building all three units and documenting the results. What follows is the building each version of Dead Border at the same time.
The build start with placing the two body halves over the motor.
The rod that operates the lower jaw is also placed, as well as the neck mount.
I detected no difference in any of the pieces. The next step is placing two pieces that act as covers. One on the top of the unit, and the other clips onto the neck area.
These pieces are also identical with no distinct differences.
The two lower jaw pieces are then fitted together to form one piece that connect to the body. The teeth are all identical as are the number of crevasses in the bottom of the mouth. At this point the "collar" piece is also built.
The collar piece consists of the neon green piece that two of the smoke gray pieces are attached to, the unit is then fitted at the base of the neck. The only variance is noted, as stated before, in the color of the gray pieces.
A cover plate is then placed over the collar piece. The cover plates are identical.
Next both sides of the face are fitted. This is accomplished with four pieces: two facial sides, one piece that fits at the tip of the nose and eventually hold the canopy, and the back of the top of the head which has hose ports.
There are no difference on any of the head pieces, save for the TDP release being a bit more refined.
Next are the canopy and eyes. The OJR and Pre-Release canopies are identical right down to the circular imprint on the left hand side of the top of the pieces. The TDP also has this minor imprint, but the plastic has different tint to it.
The canopy and two eyes are then fitted.
Next, the axle that connects to the motor is fitted and held in place with one cap. The axles are also identical in shape. This is the first time we see the use of the gray pieces on the unit. The gray used on Dead Border is really a stunning color that you have to see in person to really appreciate. If you look closely there are small metallic flecks embedded in each and every gray piece. Although harder to see in the pictures the OJR and Pre-Release are almost identical in the shade of gray, the difference is very minimal. The TDP version of the gray is darker enough to actually note.
This process is finished on the left hand side first.
The same process is repeated with the same pieces on the right hand side, again no differences.
The back cover is then assembled with three pieces. This includes using two smoke gray piece that connect to each side of the middle neon green cover.
No differences were found between the pieces on all three sets.
The back cover is then fitted and the main back body vent is then constructed. The back vent consists of two pieces.
The OJR and Pre-Release pieces are identical, but we do see a significant mold change when viewing the TDP pieces. The mold was changed and the back vent now has the words "OFF" followed by "ON". Beside the ON there is a small dot. A closer look is offered below.
The same process is repeated on the left side of the piece. These piece remain identical and are unchanged.The units are now ready for tail assembly.
The tails consist of two pieces held together by a pair of caps. There are no variances in any of the tail pieces.
With the tails in place the tail vent is constructed. The tail vent consists of three pieces which are all identical.
The tails are then complete.
The front plate and first hose is then placed on the front of the neck.
The only difference is the color of the hoses.
The cannon plate is then placed, followed by the lower frontal body cover.
These pieces differ on the OJR and Pre-Release version with the diameter of the cannons being smaller than the TDP release. Its harder to see in the pictures, but the difference is significant when viewing the pieces side by side. The smaller cannons on the OJR and Pre-Release look to be almost fragile in comparison the the TDP version. Again we see the gray pieces on the TDP version that are remarkably different in color from both the OJR and Pre-Release.
Next, two side cannons are attached.
The cannons all have the conduit present and are identical.
The legs are then assembled. The first step in leg assembly consists of adding two support pieces to the foot piece. There is also a small cover placed on the inside of the shorter leg piece. The cover, finished in green, shows through the leg vent.
The leg vent pieces are identical. Moving onto the actual leg assembly we do see a major difference in the foot pieces of all version.
The stabilizer on the TDP version is longer, and also has an additional triangular shaped support next to the inner claw of the left foot. The Pre-Release version also has the triangular support, but it resides on the opposite (right) foot.
The measurements of the stabilizer are exactly the same on the OJR and Pr-Release version at 5/8", the TDP version comes in at 1 1/8" making this a noticeable difference between the releases.
Below is a closer look at the triangular addition found on the Pre-Release and TDP version. Besides hose color, I think this very well may be the easiest difference to spot separating the two versions.
With the leg finished, two piece are added to allow for actual movement, these piece are identical.
Completed leg units.
The leg is then attached to the body via one cap. The fender is then constructed. The fender houses a small green piece that shows through the vent.
The fender is then attached to the leg and mounted on the body via one cap per leg.
Work is then started on the arms. The arms consist of three pieces pictured below.
The arm units are identical when complete.
The arms are attached to the body via one cap.
The arm and leg construction is repeated for the opposite side of the unit. The final hoses are then placed.
The OJR and Pre-Release both contain an extra set of hoses, the TDP version is lacking these extras. Hose placement is identical, with the only difference being the color. Next we move onto the two cannons.
Each cannon consists of two pieces: a support and the actual cannon that are held in place via one cap. We do see a difference in the TDP cannon as it is lacking the small conduit seen on the upper part of both the OJR and Pre-Release.
The cannons are placed and build is completed.
The units are now ready for stickers.
Stickers are trimmed and placed and the unit, and the final step is to place the rubber pads on the feet of the unit. We also see a difference between all the release with this step as the OJR and Pre-Release version come with 2 small circular rubber pads the TDP version does not come with any. The OJR version has indentions on the bottom of the foot stabilizers on both feet, the Pre-Release and TDP versions only have on indention for placing one rubber pad, see below:
The finished units.
A look at each completed individual release.
Congratulations for making it through this review. The process of comparing and contrasting these units was an absolute joy. In order to better understand the origins of my own Holy Grail the Battle Rex, this experience has served me well. I do believe that the mold used for the TDP release was the same one intended for use on creating the Battle Rex as it lacks the conduits, but that is a whole different review. I hope you have enjoyed this close look at my all time favorite Zoid, and thanks for reading.
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